A 56-year-old woman in London is going to be the first one to attend Queen Elizabeth’s lying-in-state at Westminster Hall on Wednesday. Vanessa Nathakumaran has been camping at Westminster for the ceremony since Monday – two days before the event. Hundreds of people are lining up for lying-in-state, which will begin at 5pm local time (9.30pm IST), and will last 24 hours a day until September 19, the day of the funeral, according to BBC. For now, Ms Nanthakumaran is among the people who are queueing up to pay respects to the Queen.
“It’s going to be emotional and I don’t know how I’ll feel going in there as the first one,” Ms Nanthakumaran, an administration assistant originally from Sri Lanka, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
“It’s our duty to say thank you. It’s going to be prayers from the heart. It’s going to be very sombre, quiet and overwhelming.”
At 11.30 am (local time) on Monday, she was walking past the Houses of Parliament when Ms Nanthakumaran learned that the line would start from riverside, according to The Guardian.
Her intention is to pay her respects and thank the Queen for her service and doesn’t mind waiting. “It’s worth the wait,” Ms Nanthakumaran told the outlet.
She also said that her great-uncle was knighted by King George VI and was invited to attend the king’s coronation before Sri Lanka’s independence.
“For their service, it is sort of like payback. Whatever they did for the Commonwealth, we have to appreciate what they did, and for the independence they eventually gave back when Sri Lanka wanted the rights back,” Ms Nanthakumaran told The Guardian.
Since she has been staying there overnight, Ms Nanthakumaran’s daughters are bringing food and other supplies.
Strict rules and airport-style security measures have been put in place, with “far more” people expected than the 200,000 who filed past the coffin of the queen’s mother when she died in 2002, according to Prime Minister Liz Truss’s spokesman.